Jump to content


The Duck House.


  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#21 Pharaoh's number 2

Pharaoh's number 2

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3760 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:London

Posted 11 December 2013 - 05:22 PM

View Postzahidf, on 11 December 2013 - 05:15 PM, said:

Reviews seem good though

4* Telegraph, 3* Standard, 2* Times, Whatsonstage, Arts Desk, positive one in The Stage



#22 fringefan

fringefan

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 786 posts

Posted 11 December 2013 - 06:49 PM

Advance booking has probably been healthy and I'm sure this will find an audience, especially with Xmas coming.  As I said when I saw it in Guildford, I laughed myself at times despite my reservations and the play was well-received.

#23 djp

djp

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 431 posts

Posted 11 December 2013 - 10:59 PM

View Poststefy69, on 11 December 2013 - 03:03 PM, said:

Seems like sadly another dud for the Vaudeville....

Was full when I went last Thursday - for the matinee. If it keeps that up it will do well. Audience seemed to like it a lot, and there was breaking  laughter throughout, and a strong reception at the end. Ben Miller added to that with some breaking the 4th wall when things went slightly wrong, or the audience reacted strangely.  Its a bit long and repeats  in places,  but keeps up momentum most of the time.  The topical jokes - including  Nigella and cakes, and David's riding adventures, were well written and recieved . Nancy Caroll as the wife is excellent. Diana Vickers is striking- she belongs on a stage - but she needed a bit more written for her - someone should put her in another musical soon - she seems to cover everything from bass to soprano well.

The criticism seems to be that it becomes absurd, some slapstick creeps in,  and the Conservative character is a debauched stereotype. The slapstick may go a stain too far. One cream pie at the right moment  may be more effective than 3. Absurdity though is an absurd charge. Whats claimed is what actually happened - and only establishment apologists would deny it as realistic. The audience clearly understood,  and recalled, the points being referred to.   The whole point is that the activities revealed in the expenses scandal were absurd. When you have a treasure trove of absurdties to explore, you don't leave some of the most absurd unused  . Obviously, you also have to make the point clear in some cases - such as with the wife employed as a secretary -  who can't find the on switch on her computer. The proclivities of the Conservative character  were stereotypical , but again within the bounds of recent record. Similar characters have been in farces for decades, and Stephen Ward doesn't reportedly take a very different view of the establshment.

There are moments when you  may think its stretched a bit thin, but there's usually a good joke coming along soon. Overall,  there's some really good comedy and performances  here. Worryingly for the politicians,  the audience seemed to appreciate every joke - only too well.

#24 Parsley

Parsley

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 367 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:London

Posted 12 December 2013 - 10:22 PM

Too much discrepancy between the first half (which is okay and modestly comedic with some moderate jokes and an average script buoyed by good performances) and a second half which really is s***. The sort of thing that would come on a lesser known channel at 11pm or the sort of film that goes straight to DVD and was never reviewed by anyone.

Nancy Carroll might have well deserved her Oliver award at that time but by golly have her subsequent stage roles been abysmal. She is hardly notching up a worthy CV.
She is also a poor comedy actor.
Her role in this and The Magistrate is almost identical.

Diana Vickers cannot act and this role is evidently consolation to commiserate the quick demise of her "pop career".
Even the 3 lines she does have are inaudible.

Really it would have been better left without a second act and we could all have gone home at the interval.

Poor Debbie Chazen can also do way better than this- it is an insult of a role that she has as Ludmilla.

Way below West End standards.
It might pass in the provinces, but not for me.
No way.

#25 steveatplays

steveatplays

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 258 posts

Posted 11 January 2014 - 06:49 PM

I agree with what's been said. The satire is weak, and the farcical setups don't work. A good farce builds on believable building blocks, and the key plot device in the first half, which is the hiding of duck houses, hanging baskets, massage chairs and other luxuries from a visiting politician is nonsensical. After all, the visitor cannot possibly know which items have been claimed on expenses merely by looking at them.  Expense claims are a matter of record, and those records, which are all that matter in fact, never feature in the plot.

What I soon realised is that Ben Miller is another brilliant comic performer gifted with a desperate script. I say gifted, because anybody who goes to see this cannot fail but to come away saying "wow, that Ben Miller is good, how did he get that many laughs out of that stinker?"

Indeed, in order to maximise my enjoyment, I found it best to zone out from the plot completely, and put myself in Miller's mind, not that of his character. As I watched him go about his comic schtick, I found myself bowled over by his comic talent, laughing at the minutiae, his facial expressions, his gestures, his sudden comic switches. He deserves better than this.

The second half offers up a more convincing comic set-up. Simon Shepherd plays a Tory politician with peccadilloes, which he acts out with Diana Vickers. Despite this being an almighty cliche, Simon Shepherd injects the cliche with such gusto that he's downright hilarious. His every facial tick would win first prize in the yearly gurning championships.

Nancy Carroll, who made me weep in After the Dance, is here reduced to a comic chorus, giving lots of "that's pretty funny, isn't it?" glances at that audience.

For the sterling efforts of Ben Miller and Simon Shepherd, I rate this in the same two and a half star territory of Jeeves and Wooster, ahead of rubbish like Barking in Essex, but well behind The Play that goes Wrong.

If you live in the regions, be sure to book the latter play's tour, rather than come to London to see the overheated sitcom that is "The Duck House."

#26 djp

djp

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 431 posts

Posted 12 January 2014 - 06:56 AM

View Poststeveatplays, on 11 January 2014 - 06:49 PM, said:

I agree with what's been said. The satire is weak, and the farcical setups don't work. A good farce builds on believable building blocks, and the key plot device in the first half, which is the hiding of duck houses, hanging baskets, massage chairs and other luxuries from a visiting politician is nonsensical. After all, the visitor cannot possibly know which items have been claimed on expenses merely by looking at them.  Expense claims are a matter of record, and those records, which are all that matter in fact, never feature in the plot.

What I soon realised is that Ben Miller is another brilliant comic performer gifted with a desperate script. I say gifted, because anybody who goes to see this cannot fail but to come away saying "wow, that Ben Miller is good, how did he get that many laughs out of that stinker?"

Indeed, in order to maximise my enjoyment, I found it best to zone out from the plot completely, and put myself in Miller's mind, not that of his character. As I watched him go about his comic schtick, I found myself bowled over by his comic talent, laughing at the minutiae, his facial expressions, his gestures, his sudden comic switches. He deserves better than this.

The second half offers up a more convincing comic set-up. Simon Shepherd plays a Tory politician with peccadilloes, which he acts out with Diana Vickers. Despite this being an almighty cliche, Simon Shepherd injects the cliche with such gusto that he's downright hilarious. His every facial tick would win first prize in the yearly gurning championships.

Nancy Carroll, who made me weep in After the Dance, is here reduced to a comic chorus, giving lots of "that's pretty funny, isn't it?" glances at that audience.

For the sterling efforts of Ben Miller and Simon Shepherd, I rate this in the same two and a half star territory of Jeeves and Wooster, ahead of rubbish like Barking in Essex, but well behind The Play that goes Wrong.

If you live in the regions, be sure to book the latter play's tour, rather than come to London to see the overheated sitcom that is "The Duck House."

The point of act one. though,  is that there is a key decision about to be made to jump ship and join the other party. There's a looming timing issue. The excesses of other MPs have made the headlines. The decision to change party is about to be confimed by Simon Shepherd's character. Once the change in party is  confimed by him, it will become a fait accompli. No one has yet published or confirmed  Ben Miller's particularly dubious expense claims. The problem is that the Simon Shepherd character will see the same extravagant items, reported  in other claims that have come to light, and will ask questions. The task is to avoid the question, avoid delaying the decision by creating doubts, and at least put the day of reckoning off until the jump to the other party becomes a fait accompli. Afterwards there may be s a hope that things will quieten down. and   being seen with a new leader will provide some political cover therafter. Thats all perfectly in keeping with known political thought processes - indeed its typical of most cover ups that short term survival  is the immediate goal, hope replaces strategy,  and desperate people do half thought through things.

The problem then becomes one that some claims are actually fraudulent. Again, the response isn't to ssume that there's no hope because there's a paper trail, but to desperately try and hide whats been done. to alter what facts can be altered, to hope the worst won't happen, and to keep the issue out of the way, while the key party  issue  is still undecided. I would think this is perfectly consistent with known behaviour by other fraudsters too?

You could argue that act one spends too long on the same theme of hiding everything, but its pretty unrealistic to expect any MP with a duckhouse, not to hide it ,when his career and promotion are at a crucual stage, and duck houses are the  story of the moment?

#27 steveatplays

steveatplays

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 258 posts

Posted 12 January 2014 - 09:37 AM

View Postdjp, on 12 January 2014 - 06:56 AM, said:

The point of act one. though,  is that there is a key decision about to be made to jump ship and join the other party. There's a looming timing issue. The excesses of other MPs have made the headlines. The decision to change party is about to be confimed by Simon Shepherd's character. Once the change in party is  confimed by him, it will become a fait accompli. No one has yet published or confirmed  Ben Miller's particularly dubious expense claims. The problem is that the Simon Shepherd character will see the same extravagant items, reported  in other claims that have come to light, and will ask questions. The task is to avoid the question, avoid delaying the decision by creating doubts, and at least put the day of reckoning off until the jump to the other party becomes a fait accompli. Afterwards there may be s a hope that things will quieten down. and   being seen with a new leader will provide some political cover therafter. Thats all perfectly in keeping with known political thought processes - indeed its typical of most cover ups that short term survival  is the immediate goal, hope replaces strategy,  and desperate people do half thought through things.

The problem then becomes one that some claims are actually fraudulent. Again, the response isn't to ssume that there's no hope because there's a paper trail, but to desperately try and hide whats been done. to alter what facts can be altered, to hope the worst won't happen, and to keep the issue out of the way, while the key party  issue  is still undecided. I would think this is perfectly consistent with known behaviour by other fraudsters too?

You could argue that act one spends too long on the same theme of hiding everything, but its pretty unrealistic to expect any MP with a duckhouse, not to hide it ,when his career and promotion are at a crucual stage, and duck houses are the  story of the moment?

DJP, I envy your belief in the set-up, as I wished it for myself.

I will explain why my mind wouldn't let me off the hook. All I could think was that lots of people have massage chairs and hanging baskets and pretty toilet seats and pouffes. They are perfectly innocent items. I couldn't believe that an innocent owner of those items would feel the need to run around hiding them, and fraudsters typically put themselves over as innocents, and act as innocents do.

Perhaps it's possible to believe that the duck house itself is so emblematic of the expenses scandal, that it is an item worth hiding, but bear in mind this character owns a house with a pond that has on it real ducks. Luxuries are going to look perfectly innocent in such a luxurious context. Garden ornaments are themselves almost de rigeur in such gardens. The duck house only became deadly in Sir Peter Viggers' case because he claimed it on expenses, not because it existed. Indeed, isn't it even a little virtuous for a rich man to give his ducks a place to keep warm in winter and hide from foxes?

Real fraudsters, to me, do not behave as Ben Miller's character behaves, but rather like Melmotte in Trollope's "The Way We Live Now." They let you see everything, and pose as paragons of virtue where everything you see has a perfectly innocent explanation.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users